Agency Forms and Guidelines

Guidelines and form sets for major federal, state, and other sponsors.

Instructions for Submitting to a Federal Agency

When submitting a proposal to a federal sponsor, first review the proposal guidelines thoroughly to determine the deadline, required forms, and any additional information pertinent to the proposal submission. Typically all federal proposals are submitted with full Facilities and Administrative costs (F&A); however, some federal agencies such as USDA may restrict F&A. Be sure to read the guidelines carefully to identify the appropriate rates. To see the FAQ for F&A, click here.

Most federal grants are submitted via Most NSF proposals are submitted via FastLane, but some NSF Directorates are beginning to accept proposals via

NSF has an excellent guide entiteld "Prospective New Awardee Guide (February 2014) which addresses many questions of first-time NSF applicants and awardees. 

Federal Forms and Guidelines

Major Federal Sponsors


Department of Defense

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

National Institutes of Health

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Reps & Certs

Often a sponsor will require completion of Representations and Certifications (commonly referred to as Reps & Certs) as part of the proposal submission package. Penn State’s institutional Reps & Certs can be found at the U.S. Government’s System for Award Management (SAM) which are required in order to do business with the U.S. Government. Some sponsors will not accept the Reps & Certs found in SAM, but instead require completion of their own version.

The following is a list of sponsor-provided Reps & Certs that have been completed and reviewed for accuracy:

The above may be used as a guide for other sponsors, to the extent their Reps & Certs are substantively the same. However, if you are unsure about how to answer a specific question, please contact the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) for assistance.


Instructions for Submitting to Industry

Many industry proposals do not require the use of specific guidelines or form sets. (Obviously, if you are responding to a specific industry Request for Proposals (RFP), you will want to follow the guidelines provided.) However, there are a number of things to know about submitting proposals to industry:

 1. Penn State has developed a number of agreement templates for industry use. By including the appropriate agreement with your industry proposal, you may expedite the processing of the resultant award.

 2. Proposals funded with industry internal research and development (IRAD) funds are subject to an additional 5% F&A. Industry proposals funded with federal flow-through funds are not.

Instructions for Utilizing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (COP) Master Agreement

Penn State has negotiated a new 5-year Master Agreement with the Department of General Services (DGS). All COP agencies may issue purchase orders to Penn State via this master agreement. (Please note that PennDOT has established a separate master agreement with Penn State for specific research projects). A number of COP agencies also issue grants to Penn State, which are not typically flowed through the COP Master Agreement.


Request for Proposal/Proposal Submission Process

For all projects intended to be issued under the COP Master Agreement, the COP agency will issue Attachment 1 (Agency Request–Work Plan) to Penn State.  Attachment 1 information will include: requested project and time frame, copyright ownership selection, reporting requirements, and source of funds (Penn State can then include the appropriate F&A rate in its response).  If the COP agency has identified the Penn State Principal Investigator (PI) for the requested project, Attachment 1 will be sent directly to the PI who should then contact their contracts and grants office to prepare the proposal.  If the PI is not known or identified, Attachment 1 will be sent to Karen Little who will post the request to Penn States’ proposal listserve.

Penn State will respond to the COP agency utilizing Attachment 2 (DRAFT University Response). Attachment 2 will include a draft SOW, a detailed budget, and a summary budget (see below for details regarding the budgets to be provided). Following review by the COP agency (and DGS for proposals >$100K), the COP agency will sign and return Attachment 2 to Penn State either accepting the proposal 'as is' or requesting any changes.  Penn State will then submit Attachment 3 (FINAL University Response) with the final scope of work, budget, and final equipment list to the COP agency as the final proposal. 

Additional COP Master Agreement attachments.  If protected health information (PHI) will be provided to Penn State as part of a project,Attachment 4 (Business Associate Agreement) will be included with the purchase order. If PHI is provided in a limited data set, the COP agency will include with the purchase order a Data Use Agreement (DUA). A sample DUA was provided to Penn State during negotiation of the Master Agreement but a final version was not included with the final version of the master agreement.

COP Master Agreement budget submissions.

  • The first budget is a detailed budget, such as is created in SIMSbudgets. COP agencies use this budget for the review and evaluation of the project. If the project has a budget of $100,000 or greater, the COP agency will forward to DGS for further review. DGS may contact Penn State for additional detail as needed to evaluate the proposed costs or project.
  • The second budget is a summary budget broken into six major categories:  (1) Personnel (includes tuition when requested by Penn State and approved by the COP agency or DGS when appropriate), (2) Operational (includes all other direct costs and expendable equipment not included in one of the other major categories), (3) Subcontracting (includes purchased services), (4) Capital Equipment (cost to purchase and cost to rent the equipment – Agency or DGS will then determine which option and advise their selection), (5) Administrative Fees (when allowable/applicable), and (6) Travel. This budget is used by the COP agency to issue the purchase order to Penn State. Under the provisions of the COP Master Agreement, Penn State must obtain prior approval before shifting funds from one major category to another. Budget revision requests should be submitted to the COP agency and if accepted, an amendment to the purchase order will be issued.  If you receive a purchase order issued based on the detailed budget, please contact the COP agency and request a revised purchase order based on the summary budget.

For some quick highlights regarding travel, equipment and expendable property, and invoicing related to the new COP Master Agreement, click here.

Guidance on F&A on Commonwealth Proposals

For purchase orders issued under the COP Master Agreement, the COP agency must identify the source of funds per the requirements of Attachment 1 to the master agreement. When submitting proposals to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (COP) that will not be funded under the COP master agreement, it is imperative that you determine the original source of funding prior to preparing a budget. The Commonwealth is required to identify the source of funding; if they do not, refer them toCommonwealth Management Directive 305.21. If the funding is 100% federal flow-through, the budget must be prepared with the appropriate F&A for the applicable federal agency.  If the funding is 100% COP funds, F&A is not collected unless the COP agency has established rules for reimbursing F&A. If the funding is a mix of Federal and COP funds, the budget must be split to show the appropriate F&A on each portion of the project.

If the COP agency cannot identify the source of funding at the time of the proposal, the proposal should be submitted at the appropriate federally negotiated rate. This will prompt the COP agency to reply if the funding is not federal. If the project is later determined to be 100% state funds or a combination of state and federal, the F&A can be recalculated at that time and a revised budget submitted.

Additional guidance on charging F&A to COP grants and contracts can be found here.

Instructions for Submitting to a Foundation

Most foundations post proposal guidelines on their websites. Some general information about foundations can be found at the Foundation Center. Most foundations only fund projects within a certain targeted topical and/or geographical area; it generally is not useful to try to convince them to fund projects outside their area of interest. University Development (Foundation Relations) works with several large foundations as well as most of the PA-based foundations. They encourage faculty to contact them to discuss ways of pursuing these funds. Most foundations do not pay full Facilities and Administrative costs (F&A), so it is important to review the guidelines carefully. The University of Wisconsin maintain a fairly comprehensive listing of F&A rates permitted by major U.S. foundations.